Style and Substance in Marche

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A rising champion of Verdicchio reaches for the heights of elegance.

The first thing I noticed about Leopardo Felici was his footwear—the white retro Rivieras slip-ons completing his outfit of white slacks and a fitted blue patterned shirt.

As Felici, chic and smiling, descended a staircase at a countryside hotel in the Italian Marche for a private tasting of his Andrea Felici wines, I thought he could be the stylish establishment's director.

At 34, Felici is a rare blend: a suave and charismatic wine lover who is also a serious young farmer and winemaker from tiny Apiro (pop. 2,400). Under his direction since 2008, his family's small estate has been lauded in Italy for producing some of the most elegant examples of the Marche's signature grape, Verdicchio.

"We want to make just Verdicchio," said Felici as we tasted several vintages of his two wines—his basic Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore cuvée and his single-vineyard cru Il Cantico della Figura, which is fermented and aged 12 months on lees in cement tanks, then spends six months in bottle before release (at under $30 in the U.S.). "We want to make the top wine from Verdicchio."

The next morning, I drive out to the Felici home and winery...read the full blog at winespectator.com